Japan heroes MLB tribute-MLBVideoAlthough baseball’s Ichiro Suzuki was the star player of the opening day game in Tokyo, this week, all eyes were on the tsunami heroes who threw out the first pitch after a moving tribute to them played on the jumbo video screen.

The video featured narration by Derek Jeter, Bobby Valentine and Cal Ripken Jr. telling the stories of three people who selflessly worked for others following the March 11 disaster last year. Major League Baseball players and owners presented a $500,000 check to help rebuild the stadium in Ishinomaki, about 200 miles north of Tokyo on the Japanese coast.


Japanese tsunami hero PEACE Taylor Anderson Fund photoTaylor Anderson was a 24-year-old English teacher living on the coast who, on the day of the earthquake, helped usher her students onto a playground to safety. She was later lost in a giant tsunami wave as she rode her bicycle home. Her parents have dedicated their lives to the Taylor Anderson Memorial Fund, which has raised money to help rebuild the Tohoku region. As of March 12, 2012, donations, gifts and pledges have exceeded $215,200.

Shinji Takai pitched in to clean up his wrecked village and discovered countless family photographs among the rubble. He collected thousands upon thousands of images, all damaged by the receding waters and has started a photo project to have them all restored.

A third hero, a stay-at-home mom in Japan, jumped off her couch the day of the disaster and began organizing relief shipments. Since then, she has become Hands On Tokyo disaster relief program manager, and says there is still much work to be done. Baseball’s focus on the problem will, it is hoped, bring more effort to rebuilding what had been lost.

As the heroes stood on the field for the national anthems, the flags of the United States and Japan were in clear view and the word “Tomodachi” — or “friendship” — appeared on the big screen at the end of the video.

Ichiro Suzuki helped the Seattle Mariners to a 3-1 win over the Oakland Athletics in front of 44,227 people at the Tokyo Dome..

(READ more at MLB website)

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